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10 Ways To Celebrate Kwanzaa This Year

It’s that time of year again! A time of celebration, family and community. And I know you’ve been collecting Kwanzaa tools, hoarding books and forgetting each day of the week STILL. Every year you just can’t seem to commit. Whether it’s time or relatability, this post was created for you to incorporate Kwanzaa into this year stress-free and joyously.

Photo: Kwanzaa /

1. Learn more about Kwanzaa and the traditions it was based upon. Kwanzaa is an African American (Indigenous American) celebration of life from December 26th to New Years Day (Jan 1st). Dr. Maulana Karenga created then introduced the festival in 1966 to the USA as a ritual to welcome home the first harvests. In order to understand what you are truly celebrating, study the symbolism of Kwanzaa and try to apply what you’ve learned.

2. Get the tools you need ahead of time to celebrate. Kwanzaa is centered around Seven Symbols. These Seven Symbols of Kwanzaa include: The unity cup (kikombe cha umoja), the candleholder (kinara), the harvest (mazao are fruits, nuts and and vegetables), the seven candles, the cloth or tablemat (mkeka), an ear of corn for each child in the home, and gifts (zawadi) which are educational or cultural and given on the last day of Kwanzaa to the children.

Photo: Kwanzaa Table

3. Do What You Can. Each day pick one thing that allows you to celebrate the holiday. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all, the point is to find creative ways to bring the family together while celebrating the principles of Kwanzaa.

4. Learn the 7 Principles. Think about the themes and how they relate to everyday life.

5. Explore some traditional recipes and dishes. Cooking is always an exciting and tasty way to bring people together. Try out some cultural dishes with family and friends. Experiment with new spices and create a family cookbook to keep them in. Oh, and take plenty of photos.

6. Pass down family and community stories. Heritage and culture is so dependent on memories and the passing down of certain events. Events that made us who we are, effectively shifted history, and lead to the future generations. Take some time to share stories, especially to younger generations in the home so they have memories to share with their children one day.

Photo: Three Generations /

7. Set up an ancestor altar or vigil. Since we are celebrating our culture and passing stories down, no better time than to build an ancestor altar for those members of the family who went on to be guardian angels over us. Let the family be involved in saying a prayer and lighting white candles at this space and sharing some of the beautiful memories they had.

8. Host a jam session with musicians, vocalists and poets. Enough said.

9. Use your creative abilities to make a gift for someone. They say it’s the thought that counts, and what better way to say ‘thinking of you’ by creating something special for someone that you didn’t just pick up in a store. Sure to put a smile on their face every time.

10. Spend your money with businesses of color!! Outside of Kwanzaa week, this should be a practice we grow to adapt in our economically changing climate. Since the dollar struggles to stay in our communities. I challenge you all to invest in your own back yard more; celebrate your heritage and culture; and learn to be receptive and appreciative of your community members. Love and let love grow. Happy holidays, Nubians!

- NX



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Image by Jessica Felicio